Marcelle NankervisVegie massacre at Moorooduc

On a day, not unlike any other, I ventured into the vegie garden to pick fresh produce for lunch, only to discover a massacre! Broad beans cut off in their prime, cabbages completely decapitated, and lettuces with severed leaves strewn among the few plants that were remarkably unscathed. What could have done this senseless violence?

My first suspects were my ducks. I recently moved them into the orchard to stop them destroying all my lovely succulents. I saw them slip through some wire the day before, but I was fairly confident I had plugged all access to the Potager.

If not them, what else?

Maybe rats … we recently discovered that it was not in fact the birds that had been stealing our olives, but rats! They climb the olive trees, pick the olives just as they ripen and then stockpile them among our bluestones. Hundreds of olives were wasted last season.

Could it be rabbits? There are several wild rabbits and hares in our area, but surely they would not be so random in their attack. Also, the plants were still in the ground, only the tops had been removed.

After a few days of scowling at the ducks, the mystery was solved. It was not the duck, but another bird altogether … Cockatoos. Not one, but three of the largest sulphur-crested cockatoos I had ever seen. As I watched them snipping at my lettuce, I remembered seeing them earlier in the week too. That day, they were in the paddock before flying to a nearby hollow tree, where I assumed they were nesting. As lovely as they are, their presence is not welcome in my garden.

The Solution: I am contemplating trying the GoShawk bird scarer. Apparently this is the thing of cockatoo nightmares. I am sceptical, but most people recommend it as a cockatoo deterrent and at around $40 posted to your door, it is certainly worth a try. My only concern is how it will make my domestic ducks, guinea fowl and chickens feel … paranoid probably.

(Photo by Dicktay2000)

My other options include:
– white bird netting (which could prove costly and unsightly)
– fake rubber snakes (I need to be prepared for real snakes so I certainly do not want to get the two confused)
– a cap gun (seems a little labour intensive for me)

Right now, I really wish that they had found a different hollow tree to nest in so that my precious produce could remain safe from ruthless attacks and I would remain oblivious to their senseless violence.

Maybe it’s time for a chic scarecrow?

 

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Marcelle Nankervis

About Marcelle Nankervis

Garden journalist, author of Plants for Australian Dry Gardens and Smart Gardening – grow your own fruit and vegetables, contributor to many garden magazines. Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

One thought on “Vegie massacre at Moorooduc

  1. Helen Young on said:

    I’ve been amazed how many among my clients and radio callers are reporting cockatoo damage at the moment. Anyone have any theories about this timing? But I have found that a very effective and easy solution is to hang old CDs or DVDs around the area. Hang them on string or fishing line so they spin in the breeze. It’s apparently the flashing light off them that deters the cockatoos. This works against all types of birds, not just cockatoos.

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